So as you may have heard, South Carolina is the state that hosts the South’s first Republican presidential primary. For the right to do this, the various county chapters of the state GOP have to collectively pay a fee of $1.5 million to the national party (or something) — the problem is that the county GOP committees are roughly half a million dollars short in meeting that fee requirement. Enter Stephen Colbert.
The Comedy Central star is offering to make up the difference with cash raised by his super PAC – if the state agrees to rename the nominating contest “The Colbert Super PAC South Carolina Republican Primary” and if state residents support his bid to add a non-binding referendum about “corporate personhood” on the ballot that asks voters whether “corporations are people” or “only people are people.”
The funding gap exists, in part, because state Republicans have refused to pony up anything above the $180,000 in candidate’s filing fees they are required to contribute. As a result, election officials say the state may need to run a deficit to hold the nominating contest.
The South Carolina GOP was initially receptive to the idea of taking Colbert’s money, but ultimately declined out fear that it would have been made to look foolish, which, let’s face it, it would have. Colbert then wrote a hilarious op-ed that ran in yesterday’s Columbia State making his ridiculous case for being the state GOP’s sugar-daddy.
That’s when the S.C. Republican Party withdrew their generous offer to sell me what they weren’t paying for. They told the press that my requests, “were considered but were declined,” because they, “were concerned about the sanctity of the primary election.” If nothing else good comes from this, we have at least narrowed down the exact value of sanctity — somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000.
I assumed that was the end of the story, but last week I saw that the South Carolina GOP has reneged on funding any part of the primary, save for the legal minimum percentage of candidate filing fees, leaving the financially strapped counties on the hook for $500,000. That’s money that counties need for emergency services, infrastructure repair, and to complete the wall to keep out North Carolinians. Once again, our first-in-the-South primary is in jeopardy.
Which brings us to South Carolina’s other motto: “Dum spiro spero” — “While I breathe, I hope.” Well, South Carolina counties, you can stop breathing now — your hopes have been answered.
Colbert Super PAC will cover the counties’ $500,000 shortfall. In return, I ask for only two things: that you support the Democrats’ petition to get my referendum back on the ballot, and that you grant me the pre-negotiated naming rights, which, I think we can all agree, you now own. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “You paid for that microphone!”
The counties need the money, and Colbert Super PAC wants to give it to you; call it a Christmas Miracle. I’ve already filled out the check, and to prove it’s no joke, I’ve written “No Joke” in the memo line. I’m going to be home in South Carolina over the holidays, so just give me a call.
As Slate notes, “It’s not exactly clear whether such a subsidized primary would even be legal, but we suppose that’s at least part of the point given Colbert has been using his super PAC to draw attention to election laws that critics say give corporations and political action committees too much power.”
God bless Stephen Colbert. Illuminating absurdity with absurdity. What a goddamn national treasure he is.